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DETACHED (AFTER BILLY COLLINS)

Two Arms, two legs, a torso and head;
They don’t listen to each other anymore.
The brain says “charge” and the other parts
Just look around, survey the field;
They might as well be thrown on a conveyor belt,
Stuffed into a cereal box
And buried in a toy chest in an attic.

But it feels good, this detachment-
I’m the only idiot in the room.
I live in prison cell with a trap door
To all the gardens in the world,
To the midnight cabarets,
Where I return every morning
To lock myself in, afraid of the dead,
And detached from the living.

I have retired from the marketplace hullabaloo
Of clamorous buyers and sellers of fruit and soaps,
And the rush hour doesn’t seem to miss my spot.
I can barely remember what I was doing there,
Getting up with the sun and so full of greed.
As to what I do now, I’ve become a full-time poet.

Poet is a hopeless condition of pretending to be mad,
Writing on scraps of butcher wrapping
With your own blood, that few people read.

Detached is the operating theme here, young man.
Stay on point. Detached.

Once I took an acid trip in the Versailles Gardens
And saw the statues start to dance on their pedestals;
Need I remember more?
I felt detached then, I feel detached now.

This was supposed to happen.
Part of the process since I’ve managed to survive
And quit with a shirt on my back-
A cozy writing desk and Medicare.

I have a lot of time to think, detached from
Everything but writing a poem.
Really, all the time in the world.

Editing stage: 

Comments

this train of thought poem. Makes me feel not so alone. ~ Gee.
.

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It is always a pleasure to hear your work in other voices. Especially wonderfully deep ones!
Hearing you read my poem is indeed a gift. And you read it like you so got it!

Eumolpus
I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

a cross between Donald Duck and a bumble bee, I put it through some audio filters in Audacity to smooth it out and deepen it. Is that cheating?)

cheers,
Jess
A new incentive for critique, description at
https://www.neopoet.com/community/news/proposal-encouraging-critiquescom...
discussion at
https://www.neopoet.com/forum/23390

kindred spirits on this issue
I always enjoy your writing skills and craftsmanship (are they the same thing?)
and the sentiment expressed in this piece sealed the deal...I am a fan ( no, not the panty tossing kind); simply an admirer.

sincerely,

Al

I'm not a fan of reflexive poetry, and this applies to your latest work too, Al.
Of course we have to admit that other poets are probably our biggest demographic.
I really hate Lovedly's poems addressed to Neopoets. That's going too far.
Nor am I as extremist plain spoken for the ordinary man as Stan.
I'm happy to look up classical references in the works of Eliot or Auden or ilk.
I often make pop references or references to people like Freud, Jung, Nietzsche, Darwin and Marx, all of whom I expect any reasonably well read person to be familiar with.

Maybe my expectations aren't quite so reasonable. Based on the fact that I've read one work of the classics or poetry, one work of non-fiction in any category and one work of sci-fi or fantasy every single week for the last 50 years, I probably assume common knowledge of some things I shouldn't.

cheers,
Jess
A new incentive for critique, description at
https://www.neopoet.com/community/news/proposal-encouraging-critiquescom...
discussion at
https://www.neopoet.com/forum/23390

I was not aware of the therm reflexive poetry, and after sometime on "the google" I think I have the basic idea of what it means...although it seems as difficult to define as the term "existentialism" ;
just so many different takes.
Somehow I was not aware of Billy Collins over all these years, a big favorite of a lot of Neopoets. He was poet laureate of the US, and actually taught at my old college- Lehman College in the Bronx, way after I left. I recently finished his collected poems and loved it- and realized many poems I had been seeing, and writing, were in his style- a good use of satire and humor with serious undertones. Very accessible, often laugh out loud lines, great images. As I finished (for now) this work, it was clear I was influenced by his style and wanted to acknowledge it. I do not think he will reach the top of the charts like a Commings, Eliot or Stevens, but Collins has some really great moments, and well worth reading..he's refreshingly fun to read.
I will continue my research into the different approaches to reflective and reflexive poetry..thanks for introducing me to this debate.

Eumolpus
I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

poets or poetry.
Reflexive films point the camera at a mirror, or at least take pains to be aware that a camera is filming the process.
Reflexive novels introduce the author as a character (not just use of the first person) like the masterful "The French Lieutenant's Woman" by John Fowles and talk about the process of writing.
It's easier for poets to get away with but there is always the danger of death by wankery.

cheers,
Jess
A new incentive for critique, description at
https://www.neopoet.com/community/news/proposal-encouraging-critiquescom...
discussion at
https://www.neopoet.com/forum/23390

and I agree with you by and large concerning poems about poetry. I just have a few, and usually avoid them in that they, to echo the famous words of Oscar Wilde- "tells us things intelligent readers already know and poor readers don't care about"
Some poets can get away with it- Mary Oliver has several good ones for example, as does Collins.
Thanks for the links- Forgetfulness was one of the poems I put a little bookmark on, great poem.

Sure I'd enjoy a similar workshop as the one you linked me to...but I would love to figure out a way to make the workshops less like an email thread, more accessible to get in and out ..it's hard get back in the conversation if you can't visit the site for a while...The thread of emails from the workshop link become quite long. Perhaps we can find a more accessible way..

Eumolpus
I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

And Workshops can run from the degree of a highly disciplined syllabus (usually fairly unsuccessful, it's like herding cats) to an informal discussion with no real point or objective.

That is the ground you have agreed to help us find by joining the workshops team, mate.

There is no right formula. I have failed miserably more often than any successes since the inception of workshops, especially in the early days when it was totally new ground and my bipolar was newly diagnosed and largely un-managed. I threw a few tanties, to say the least. The workshop archives are a fertile learning ground but somewhat embarrassing to myself. Check them out though, I have lived through much worse than that.

cheers,
Jess
A new incentive for critique, description at
https://www.neopoet.com/community/news/proposal-encouraging-critiquescom...
discussion at
https://www.neopoet.com/forum/23390

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